By Kaeridwyn Eftelya
Hamish Boyd and Fif Fernandes both agree that this has been a lengthy dissection, however,unlike a real body, this body of work has benefitted from a long fermentation process.
The work started out as part of a screenwriting for actors workshop in Vancouver with Jeff Cohen, and really started to get somewhere with Doug Curtis’s storytelling workshop at Ghost River Theatre.
My Autopsy is Hamish’s life story, or parts of it. Images and scenes drawn from both his childhood and his adult adventures in India. Demons and monsters come up frequently in our conversation and Hamish tells me that he had a real addiction to horror movies as a child. They gave him nightmares and resulted in a number of monsters taking up residence in his psyche and childhood bedroom. My Autopsy reveals and exposes these, and were some of the first stories to come to light in his storytelling workshop with Curtis.
Undoubtedly Fif, Hamish’s partner and “director-by- default” as she called herself, has been a great help to Hamish. She started out just getting him to write down his thoughts (that blank computer screen is so intimidating!), then getting him on his feet, speaking the stories (sometimes improvised) while in process. Now she keeps him from getting “too precious”and pushes him to get down to the barebones of his tales and experiences. Hamish points out that this allows the audience to feel what they want to feel alongside him.
Fif sounds pretty straight up in her direction of Hamish when making the transformation from page to stage, getting him to “just cut all the purple prose […] Just tell it to me.”
After the first reading in Tibetan Pavilion, Fif says that she and Hamish had many readings of the show. Their goal was to detect the response different groups had to the piece. An important aspect of the show is the balance of Eastern and Western philosophy and the diversity and unity that lies within. The readings were important to get a sense of how the
work was received on those levels as well.
Fif and Hamish both agree that this particular incarnation has reached a new depth. Fif sees “a depth and a richness that comes from Auroville,” and Hamish cites a number ofexperiences in this last year in Auroville that have contributed to that as well. In addition, this year Hamish found himself really plunging into the depth and dealing with darkness and deep personal wounds. This coincided with Hamish’s reading Satprem’s “Adventures in
Consciousness,” where he found similar experiences, and drew connections between Sri Aurobindo’s delving into the darkness, and his own childhood experiences of darkness with
monsters and demons.
My Autopsy plays at CRIPA Feb 17, 18 and 19, (Fri. Sat. Sun.) at 7:30. Please be in your seat by 7:25.
Kaeridwyn Eftelya is a professional theatre artist and sometime writer for Auroville Art Service.